Saturday, February 26, 2011

Spring Prep in your garden in early March

As we start to get days above freezing and a few days here and there nice enough to be outside, there is work to be done in the garden.  Just a few things that really need to be done soon:
  • Prune prunus cistenas (purple leafed sandcherries) back to promote a fuller shape. They’ll grow rapidly once the weather warms. Take anywhere from 6 - 12” off various branches, aiming for a rounded shape.
  • Prune back other trees ands shrubs not done in fall, except lilacs unless needed for shaping.  Those should have been pruned just after flowering last year. 
  • Cut back blue mist spiraeas, grasses, and perennials that you didn’t cut back in the fall. See earlier blog on how to cut back the large grasses and avoid making a mess.
  • Deep water your evergreens.  Especially important with  newly planted trees and shrubs, as well as the long-needled evergreens. 
  • During a dry spell when there is no snow on the ground this is a good time to spread wildflower seed.  If you've had a wildflower area in the past, you will still need to overseed with the flowers you especially want, otherwise the stronger flowers such as cornflower will take over. 
  • Keep the tip tops of your spruce trees alive by calling us for early Spring spraying for white pine weevil.  By the time you see the damage, it's too late and your tree will lose it's beautiful top. We'll set you up with an affordable program to be sure your valuable trees look their best.  
  • Make sure your deer protection is still working, you're not safe yet!
  • Call us for tree or shrub pruning projects that are too big for you to handle.  I have an arborist on staff and we can get the larger and harder to reach trees much more safely than you can!  Plus shape them professionally and haul away all the debris.
  • Keep browsing through the plant catalogs and garden magaziens and make a file of your favorite photos. This will be invaluable when we sit down together to plan a new garden space for you!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Don't let your pumpkins freeze!!

Get ready to pick pumpkins, squash
and gourds
Pumpkin in the patch - cropped
Pumpkins, spaghetti squash and gourds are hardier in cold weather than their zucchini and summer squash cousins.  Nevertheless, you need to beware of the dangers of frost and a hard freeze. 

How long should you leave pumpkins and squash in the garden?
Pumpkins, squash and gourds can generally be left in the garden as long as the ground stays dry and until there is a freeze.  Even if a light frost kills the leaves, pumpkins and squash can be left outdoors.  While they will tolerate a light frost, it's still best to cover them with a cloth blanket (not plastic) when frost is predicted. 

Did you know?  Temps in the 28 degree range and lower will destroy the outside skin and ruin the tissue and the quality of the flesh will go downhill from there.  So make sure all the pumpkins and squash are picked prior to a freeze.  

If pumpkins are still green or partly green with some orange, it's best to pick them before frost can damage the skin.  If that happens, pumpkins will stop turning color.  Once picked, put the pumpkin in a cool, dry place where it won't freeze so it can complete the process of turning color, just like we do with our not-quite ripe tomatoes.

When you pick the pumpkin or squash:
  • Cut the stem with a knife and try to keep the stem intact when you move the pumpkin.  A damaged stem can cause the pumpkin to rot and that means less time to enjoy it for fall d├ęcor.  
  • If it is wet when picked, dry the pumpkin and clean off mud as moisture can lead to mold.
  • Keep pumpkins and squash in a cool, dry place where they can last quite well for several weeks.
Save some seeds for a new garden adventure
When you cut your pumpkin, save some seeds to plant next year.  Remove all the pulp from the seeds and allow them to dry, and then keep the seeds in a cool, dry place in a jar or plastic bag. 

Plant the seeds next year to see what surprising shape or color you might have. If pumpkins have grown in the same garden with zucchini or other squash, they will likely cross-pollinate and the seeds will be a hybrid.  Next year's fruit may look quite different than its 2010 original!

Need help with your Fall clean up?  Contact us at 379-4956 or email  

Saturday, June 19, 2010

"Dwarf" Artic willow

Salix purpurea 'Nana'
Did any of you fall for the lovely dwarf arctic willow, and plant it in your residential lot?
This has got to be one of the most mis-labeled shrubs on the market today.  I've seen growers labels that indicate it stays as small as 4' x 4'.  Even large, reputable nurseries have this listed at this size.  Well, as you know if you planted this in a tight spot, it is anything but dwarf.  I've seen it get to 10' tall by 12 ' wide here in our area, before the overwhelmed homeowners finally take it out.  It can grow 4' in one year! 

The picture above is in the test garden, where as you can see, it is has way exceeded the stated size.  And it's been pruned way back several times.  It is a very lovely shrub, but be forewarned to plant it only where you have sufficient room.  It can work in a normal site if you want to whack it back to the ground every 3 years or so.  And if you have a large space you need to fill quickly, by all means plant it, or better yet take your neighbors when they remove it from their too-small spot!

And this is a formal apology to any and all past friends and customers for whom I enthusiastically planted this shrub, and who had to then remove it three years later.  I'm sorry!  It just shows that we professionals learn by experience just like everyone else.  Hey, that's why we have a test garden.  Because the shrubs don't pay any attention to what is printed on tags........

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Plant shopping and garden tours in Denver!!


Just returned from two thrilling days full of PLANTS PLANTS PLANTS and cool gardens.  It was the Garden Conservancy Open Days yesterday, a wonderful program that provides access to private gardens.  We saw 5 rock  and xeric gardens, and then spent an entire day in Denver garden centers.  Echters, Paulinos, Tagawa, and Timberline. I'll detail the rock gardens we toured in a separate post. 

First the garden centers - since I went with another plant enthusiast and garden designer extraordinaire - Genevieve - we fed eachother's passion for plants and gardens and got totally carried away.  I'll just share highlights since I could go on forever about all the fun stuff I saw and learned. 

The geranium planter at Tagawa
Paulinos was wonderful.  Has a high-end feel, great selection, decent prices. Terrific grasses here, at the best price we found.  Is very hard to get to, and they don't answer their phone which is extremely annoying.   Why wouldn't a retail garden center answer their phone?

Echters is enormous and overwhelming for we country mice.  Allow at least half a day to wander, and bring provisions to help keep up your strength. Some of the prices were high, but then, no one has higher prices for one gallon perennials than our local Eagle Crest.  Why haven't garden center prices adjusted for the new economy?  Echters has the largest selection of garden accessories I've ever seen, the equivalent of a huge warehouse full of pots and furniture and hoses and every kind of plant treatment ever made. A great place to browse with a vente latte.   

Tagawa was a little disappointing after I've heard so much about it.  It was also huge, and there we found the most spectacular geranium planter I've ever seen, but the entry displays of elf and other cheesy statuary is a huge turnoff.  They had a nice Plant Select section, but overall the perennial section was a little weak.  Their annual geranium section did stretch on forever, and the cat was available for petting as advertised.  Tagawa is so enormous and so busy they actually had parking lot attendants directing traffic! 
My new sedum collection from Timberline.
Timberline is certainly the place to go for the plant enthusiast and small-town gardener.  It is less overwhelming, and the owner, Kelly Grummons, personally helped us and many other customers which is a lovely touch. They have a great selection of unusual and hard-to-find plants.  This is our "local' source for High Country Gardens types of plant material.

For we small-town garden nuts and plantaholics, each one these garden centers is worthy of a trip to Denver just to visit them.  It's so nice to have a huge selection of everything!  
Quick observation:  Aren't you tired of the same old trailers for container gardens?  When the Ipomea's first came out it was quite thrilling, but I haven't seen much new since then.  Every garden center we went to had the same 5 trailers, BOOOOORING!  Enough with the vinca vine, impomeas, dichondra, and even the pennyroyal which seems to be the new trailer of choice!  What non-flowering, heavily trailing plant would you like to see more widely available???
Look at this wonderful rose!!                                         A great shade combination - that's a heuchera!

Another great combination - I guess I was on a green and yellow tone kick

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Plant of the Week!!

To die for!  Annabelle Hydrangea

Finally, a hydrangea that is dead hardy and reliable in our area.  Puffy white blooms up to 10" wide in mid-summer.  Because it blooms on new wood, it can be cut back to the ground and is very useful for areas with heavy winter snow that would damage other shrubs.  In other words - our area!!  It makes a spectacular show in a border, and does well in part to full shade.  Unlike most hydrangeas, it can take our Colorado alkaline soils.

I used it in a garden in RVR 7 years ago for a lovely woman with very poor vision, and due to the large flowers she was able to see and enjoy it.  It has thrived and still looks just wonderful.

In Summer - lime green flowers initially                                             
       Maturing to white
This picture was taken the first year, look  how great they look already!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It's crabapple time

By happy chance I was at the Carbondale Post office yesterday and came across this vision of beauty. Doesn't it make you want to add an - or another - crabapple to your yard?

Friday, April 30, 2010

Plant of the Week

Spirea Ogon Mellow Yellow Spiraea thunbergii 'Ogon'

What a wonderful shrub that no one uses! 

Featuring lovely, yellow to chartruese, willow-like foliage, this will brighten up your landscape and please you all season long. 

Those of you who were enchanted by the delicate foliage of the "dwarf" artic blue willow, which, as it turns out, are anything but dwarf,  will be even more pleased by this exciting, yet soft and pleasing shrub.  And unlike the willows which paid no attention to the growers tags and got HUGE - this will remain a moderate 4 1/2 - 5 1/2 ft tall in your landscape. 

Unlike the other spireas that have gold-tinged foliage in the spring -Goldmound and Goldflame, the flowers are white, not a sickly pink that clashes horribly with the foliage.  Goldflame is a pretty spirea, but when it's in bloom it looks like someone made a horrible mistake, no?

Mellow Yellow needs nearly full sun for best performance and color, and looks great with larger-leaved and purple leafed shrubs, wonderful with an understory of shorter daylilies.  Try it in a mixed shrub planting with Barberry, Chokeberry, or Annabelle Hydrangea.

Place it in a spot where the evening sun will backlight it and prepare to be wowed every day!

Like all spireas, it should be cut back every Spring to minimize some of the twiggy growth. Cut this one back very early, as it's one of the earliest to bloom. 
Click on "Plant of the Week" at the top of the page for a link to more information.